Build'n Race

 
(i)

 

Clever build-your-own-track racer is plagued by glitches.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Players race realistic cars in urban environments, but the game isn’t about the illegal sport of street racing (the circuits are completely closed -- there is neither traffic nor civilians). Rather, it’s focused on providing players a means to express their creativity and letting them design their own tracks and cars.

Positive role models

No characters appear in the game. However, two-sentence biographies are provided in the instruction booklet for the imagined drivers of each of the game’s eight cars. These descriptions range from a “tough yet fair” cop to a “28-year-old tattooed ball of aggression.”

Ease of play

The control scheme is simple enough, but steering is stiff and unresponsive. There are many glitches, which can lead to player frustration.

Violence & scariness

Cars crash into each other and hit walls. Damage to vehicles and their occupants is not apparent.

Language

Kids will see a couple of references to alcohol products on billboards.

Consumerism

Not an issue.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a build-your-own-racetrack game geared for kids. Aside from a couple of references to alcohol found on city billboards and some high speed car crashes (which never result in car damage or occupant injuries) there is virtually no questionable content. However, parents should be aware that children may grow frustrated by the game’s many glitches, which can lead to lost races and frozen screens.

Parents say

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What's it about?

BUILD’N RACE lets kids create their own racetracks. Using a simple level editor that breaks circuits into simple blocks and organizes them into categories such as “bends” and “straights,” “skyscrapers” and “landmarks,” players can create lengthy, scenic tracks in a matter of minutes. They can also customize the cars that they race on them, modifying their paintjobs, wheels, and spoilers. Outside the editor, players hit the road in single races, quick championships, and challenges that task racers to place first or beat a pre-established reference time. A local multiplayer mode accommodates up to four competitors on the same screen as they race in tournaments, as part of a team, and in quick one-off events.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The appeal of building your own racetracks, complete with jumps over buses, twisty chicanes, and customized roadside scenery, is undeniable. And the game’s editor tool, which lets players build massive circuits in not much more time than it takes to drive around them, is a snap to learn. Alas, it’s all overshadowed by glitches and half-hearted design.

The track editor often doesn’t alert players when track pieces don’t fit well together, leaving players to discover, say, walls between two pieces of track with different elevations, while driving. Even in tracks designed by the developers there are places where players can skid over a road barrier and simply not be able to get back on the track. But that’s bearable compared to the frozen screens we encountered while trying to finalize our custom circuits. There were times when we were left with no option but to switch the console off and start over. Our advice is to wait for this fall’s Mod Nation Racers for PlayStation 3, which promises a similar build-your-own-track concept with much higher production values and better quality assurance.

Online interaction: Not an issue.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about user-generated game content. Did you enjoy building your own tracks and customizing your cars? Is actively building a game more satisfying that passively consuming one? Can you think of other games that provide tools to let you create and share content?

  • Families can also discuss traffic safety. This game doesn't mention it, but race cars are meant for race tracks, and only trained professionals should drive them. Have you ever seen people driving dangerously? Were you afraid of what might happen?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii
Price:$19.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Zoo Games
Release date:August 4, 2009
Genre:Racing
ESRB rating:E for Alcohol Reference (Nintendo Wii)

This review of Build'n Race was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 8 years old October 30, 2009
 
i love it
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 8 years old September 18, 2009
 

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